The Player of Games Paperback – Mar 26 2008
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From Library Journal
The Culture's greatest game player travels to the Empire of Azad to participate in a complex competition that could settle the fates of two civilizations. Theauthor of Consider Phlebas vividlyportrays an empire ruled by arcane conventions and sophisticated brutality in an ambitious novel of gamesmanship and intrigue. Supple prose and subtle manipulations of plot produce a thought-provoking story which is highly recommended.-- JC
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Banks is an incredibly talented writer. All his books are lively and entertaining. They are laced with a wry humour, fascinating characters and inspired plots. THE PLAYER OF GAMES, I am pleased to say is no exception... Go on, treat yourself, you won't be disappointed.―STARBURST
Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more―NME
In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's―Brooks Peck, AMAZON.CO.UK
Few of us have been exposed to a talent so manifest and of such extraordinary breadth―THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Jernau Gurgeh, a game theorist and the Culture's best game-player, is recruited by the Culture's Contact division to travel to the far-off Empire of Azad in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The entire political system of the Empire is based around a complicated board game, also called Azad: ranks in the military and government, for instance, are won by advancing in Azad tournaments, with the title of Emperor going to the ultimate victor. Gurgeh, of course, is invited to join an upcoming tournament as an honoured guest, rather than compete for any prize.
After arriving on the Azad homeworld after a few years of travel and study of the game, Gurgeh surprises his hosts with his unique, alien style of play and his steady advancement through the tournament ladder. This makes up most of the novel, with some detours into the Empire's growing unease of Gurgeh's success and the hidden brutality the it uses to suppress its population.
On a larger scale, it seems that The Player of Games is Banks' attempt to introduce the Culture and its philosophies (beyond what we saw in Consider Phlebas) by contrasting them against those of the Empire. While the Empire is violently repressive, militaristic, and strongly divided by class (to the point of supporting slavery), the Culture is a post-scarcity society with little crime and no formal laws, equality for numerous sentient species and AIs, and a much more peaceful foreign policy. Of course, we don't see much of the Culture directly—utopia doesn't make for interesting plot—but Gurgeh's reactions to the increasingly horrific Empire give an excellent view into the mind of a Culture individual.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Iain Banks is a master. I love his books for sheer entertainment and outside the box thinking.Published 4 months ago by wolf
One of the best books in the series, especially to start new readers to the Culture on.Published 9 months ago by Johann Kwan
I thought the plot and characters were engaging though the story-line drags a little at some point. Furthermore, the scenes where they were playing a Game were a little dull since... Read morePublished on June 10 2011 by darcmarc